May 13, 2013

What would Beavis and Butt-Head say about the gay marriage tribe's totem poles?

There's been much discussion lately about surveillance and privacy in this electronic age. Is the Obama Administration spying on the Associated Press? Is the IRS out to get conservatives? Is Bloomberg snooping on Goldman Sachs?

Well, sure. Of course they are. 

Still, there are limits to the usefulness of spying because, while data is now cheap, data interpretation skills remain in scarce supply.

For example, consider yesterday's big feature article in the Washington Post about professional clam-diver Heather Purser, a strawberry-blonde Suquamish Indian, who convinced her tribe in 2011 to approve gay marriage. 

It's easily discoverable online that Heather has successfully been peddling this story, sometimes with Rebecca Platter, to major and minor media outlets for years. It's like a cross between a Greg Packer Man in the Street quote and a sketch from Portlandia -- the ones about the staff of the Women & Women First bookstore, combined with the performance artist spoofs.

All this is instantly available on Google, but nobody before ever got the joke. How can they? Gay marriage is serious.

Or then again, the Purser-Platter tale could even be a prank made up by two sniggering Beavis and Butt-headish adolescent sensibilities.

Consider, for example, the above photo from the feature "Same-Sex Marriage Brings Healing to Me—and My Tribe" in Yes! magazine (motto "Powerful Ideas, Practical Actions"). Look closely at the totem poles that Ms. Purser has chosen to pose between. Now think like Beavis and Butt-head:

What animals are carved on them?

And what exactly are those beavers about to do to each other?

That's the $69 Question.

Data interpretation!

Seriously, everybody is supposed to be into Big Data now for pattern recognition, but nobody is supposed to notice stereotypes. So, not much computes.

By the way, did I ever mention the Spring iSteve fundraising drive is still going on?

Thanks to everybody who has contributed so far. And for those who haven't gotten around to it:

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32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Notice too, on those totem-poles, that the small female figures are literally supporting the big dominating males.

Anonymous said...

"What would Beavis and Butt-Head say about these totem poles?"

You said "pole"....uh-huh-huh-huh-huh...

Dennis Dale said...

What, they didn't have any garish plastic tee-pees for her to gaze from pensively?
Data interpretation!
That's funny; I think the breastplate weasels may even be--happy coincidence!--same sex!
This is not data; this is a sign: somewhere weasels are about to screw themselves!

Steve Sailer said...

I don't think they are weasels.

Dave Pinsen said...

Another question stories like this one (and the one about the 1/16th Indian social work professor) raise is why does the press settle for such diluted representatives of indigenous groups? Does the press not find real Indians interesting enough on their own to be worth writing about?

Steve Sailer said...

"Does the press not find real Indians interesting enough on their own to be worth writing about?"

Purser and Platter aren't the sharpest tools in the drawer, but they know how to push all the right media buttons. That's a skill that isn't evenly distributed among all groups.

Look at Greg Packer, the near fulltime Man on the Street in hundreds of newspaper quotes. He's a highway maintenance worker, a blue collar guy, a fat slob who likes to sit around shirtless in his lawn chair. There are a million guys like him, but very few of them anymore are Jewish like Packer, so Packer is the slob on the street who has figured out how to manipulate the media.

LemmusLemmus said...

The poles in the front read "titty"!

Anonymous said...

Heh heh heh heh!

Icepick said...

Another question stories like this one (and the one about the 1/16th Indian social work professor) raise is why does the press settle for such diluted representatives of indigenous groups?

Because the press is made up of SWPL people (whiteR people), and whiter people do not really like minorities all that much. The big problem with minorities (for these folks) are that they're actual, you know, PEOPLE, and upon inspection rarely live up to the whiter person's idealized mental image of the Noble Savage.

Which is why whiter people LOVE non-white white people, thus all the love for people who are 1/16th or less Indian.

Anonymous said...

Don't beavers have flat tails?

Anonymous said...

alligators

Anonymous said...

maybe good way to pale face to casinos.

Anonymous said...

beaver & butthole

Dahlia said...

Steve,
This post and your comments are golden. Can't stop smiling at the naughtiness, yet insightful naughtiness. I can see this coming from Agnostic. A bit surprising, but in a good way.

It must be the week. Like everything in the news has been a validation on steroids of so many istevey themes. Heady.

On the Indian/white thing. I can't believe these people try and get away with this. There are millions of Southerners who are part Indian, but except for that redhead, nobody tries to use it for advantage... because it doesn't make them unique for starters.
Being part Indian for a Southerner probably has about the same sort of significance as being part Neanderthal does for non-Africans.
If you're ever in the deep South, you'll notice that for a people who are majority British with some German, they have precious few blondes or redheads. Kind of like France where nearly everyone is a brunette. I've always attributed that to their Indian heritage.
Once you start to go further north and into the mountains (Kentucky, West Virginia), they start to look more British again. The Deep South's darkness, relatively, jumped out at me when I moved from the Florida Gulf Coast, which is more German.

pat said...

It came to pass that I once supervised a team of programmers from the former Soviet Union.

In order to ingratiate myself with these recent immigrants I gave a guy from Kiev an LP I had in my record collection of Paul Plishka singing Ukrainian folk songs. I also quoted to some others, from memory a poem in Russian by Pushkin.

Alex - one of my less guarded coders - told me that first of all my accent was terrible and that anyway they were more interested in Beavis and Butthead.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

I think the funniest part is that she is a lesbian clam digger.

Baloo said...

There must be two or three Steve Sailers. You're turning out heaps of stuff lately and it's all good. I'm plugging this and your other American Indian stuff and trying to keep up with you here:
Squaws Gone Wild!

Anonymous said...

"I think the funniest part is that she is a lesbian clam digger."

At least she aint a

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS4BkkMRGsY

Anonymous said...

pre-Columbian gerbils?

Anonymous said...

Steve, very funny, but I think it has to do with this: http://queeringthechurch.com/2010/05/13/lesbian-lizards/. My sister has a lesbian friend and she has a tattoo like this. My vague recollection of her answer was along the lines of the web page mentioned.

Auntie Analogue said...


It's likely that the animals carved on the totem poles are Otters.

We nasty nativists are not supposed to make sexist comments about The Otter!

Geoff Matthews said...

Just went through the comments of the original thread, and yes, there are plenty of others who caught the pun as well.

Inki Snowe said...

Pretty sure those are actually otters, Steve. Beavers would be funny, but those tails are plain to see.

Anonymous said...

Very funny, Steve, but a lesbian friend of my sister has a tattoo like that and she told me it's related to this: http://queeringthechurch.com/2010/05/13/lesbian-lizards/

Dennis Dale said...

Well they're not beavers. They must be otters, which would make sense as the tribe is Northwestern and, I hasten to add, Wikipedia informs me otters are of the weasel family.

The Great Cornholio said...

A lesbian Indian? Will she have a teepee for my bunghole?

Anonymous said...

I bet she could get into a KKK meeting, easily passing for pure northwest European. But if they found out her sexual preference, she would have to flee, lickity split.

Anonymous said...

amerikwa
where the deviants seek normality for status,
and normals seek deviance for the same.

Cail Corishev said...

A lesbian Indian? Will she have a teepee for my bunghole?

You win the Internet.

GOP goes the weasel said...

She looks like Lena Dunham aka Miss Piggy.

David Davenport said...

If you're ever in the deep South, you'll notice that for a people who are majority British with some German, they have precious few blondes or redheads.

That is simply wrong.

Is that supposed to be a joke? If so, I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

She grew up in her culture. If you dumb red necks bothered to actually read any of her actual writing you would see the dilemma growing up in two worlds has caused her. I don't know how to feel about homosexuals but when I read the story of this girl, well, it softened my heart. She has been through so much but nothing seems to stop her. Shame on all of you. What would Jesus say? He wouldn't welcome you into his kingdom with that hateful attitude I'll clue ya.